Oatmeal banana cupcake: No wine this time.

dec. 27, 2009: we wanted to use up a number of bananas that we had collecting in our kitchen, so we whipped up this oatmeal banana cupcake recipe. it turned out pretty well, though victoria thinks it's a bit short on honey. here's the link: http://www.bananarecipes.net/oatmeal-banana-cupcakes.html


2006 Sebeka Shiraz: Smoky in a way it shouldn't be.

dec. 24, 2009: this was one of the wines we had at our wedding. it's from the western cape of south africa, and it was better in 2008, which is when we got married. but now, on this christmas eve 2009, it's too smoky for victoria's tastes ... as a shiraz, it's completely counter to the fruity jamminess she's used to with australian shirazes. and she knows the two regions are different; but this south african is too outside the norm. in fact, the sebeka web site says this wine should be enjoyed within a year of being bottled. for his part, greg said this wine tastes like honey ham. gift from victoria's parents. 13.5 percent alcohol.

2006 Justification from Justin Vineyards: Too tightly wound.

dec. 24, 2005: we wanted a special meal this christmas eve. so we thawed some prime rib steaks and popped open this justification, which we were both excited about. greg had purchased this paso robles at varsity liquors, the newish liquor store in town with a good variety of wines. victoria thought this californian was, at first, like a closely clenched fist -- very uptight, and not very expressive in flavor or nose. it did relax a little as the evening continued, however. when first uncorked, this justification had wafts of alcohol, but it mellowed to be more fruity. in terms of mouth feel, the tannins developed with decanting. victoria thinks this is a wine that might do well cellared for a few years -- it feels and tastes too young to be opened now. greg thinks it has a fruity nose. and drinking it, it at first tastes sweet. but then it follows with a bitterness like green peppers do ... and it's primary grape is cabernet franc (63 percent) and then merlot (37 percent), so that makes sense. as a pairing with the chicago-seasoned steak, greg said it was a good match. he said it "cut like a knife" against the rich fat of the bone and prime rib steak. victoria noticed this, but she wasn't as impressed with the flavor pairing. it might have helped if we had decanted it for a couple hours before drinking it ... more than $50. with sides of steamed red potatoes and broccoli. 15 percent alcohol.

2008 Perrin Reserve Cotes du Rhone: Decent. But Greg likes it.

dec. 20, 2009: we had this orange, france, perrin reserve cotes du rhone specimen with frozen scallops in an herb sauce and red potatoes, both of which were steamed. (the scallops weren't that good: no surprise). victoria thought this bottle was smooth, and it had a decent honey-lemon nose, but otherwise it wasn't very distinctive and she wouldn't get it again. but greg liked it. he said it had a little body to it and that it went well with the seafood. he thought it had a little peach flavor to it (like the bottle label described ... sometimes it helps to have a word thrown in front of you, he said). we also had this with compte swiss cheese, which was a better pairing, victoria thought. the fatness of the cheese was cut by the incisiveness of the wine. 13 percent alcohol. $9.99 with 10-percent case discount at big red liquors in bloomington, ind.

2006 Guenoc Petite Sirah: Still gentle.

dec. 23, 2009: we had this californian along with a baked chicken victoria seasoned with salt, garlic, shallots, onions and dried italian herbs. the meal turned out very well. the chicken was fall-off-the-bone tender, with strong flavor. when we popped open the guenoc, it was instantly soft. against the chicken, however, it became more tannic. that might have been a function of more time being uncorked on the table. but looking back at our previous posts, it might have been the salt on the chicken, too. 13.5 percent alcohol. $12.59 with 10-percent big red liquors case discount.


Three French wines sit on a table ...

dec. 22, 2009: this was family dining at its best ... my cousin tricia comfortable in her own skin, making us all smile; the relaxed but temporary silences; my uncle's stories; my mom's loud guffaw, barely contained; and three bottles of wine, all french. the first, a 1990 bordeaux from chateau le gay pomerol (a magnum!), a 2004 chateau puech-haut saint-drezery, and a 1990 domaine des aubuisieres vouvray moelleux. this 1990 was one of the variety's sweet white dessert wines, according to victoria's dad. this vouvray is by the viticulteur Bernard FOUQUET, 13% alcohol. 1990 was considered a "Grand Annee" in the Loire valley, alan said.

the 1990 wasn't that distinctive, though alan disagreed. yet at $179.99 (according to snooth.com), it was the highest-priced wine of the evening. the 2004 was more memorable, however, with a fruitier nose and flavor. it was priced at $24.98 on snooth. victoria said both were smooth, and that the 1990 opened up more as the meal moved along past the grilled lamb, the spinach, the mashed potatoes, the squash and the miniature brussel sprouts.

and then: dessert. victoria made some chocolate puddle cookies based on a recipe given to her by greg's mom, joanne made grammy's ginger cookies, and we had a russian cake made by a woman victoria's parents know. that russian cake, incidentally, was big enough to the hold the 15 candle-lit letters comprising C-O-N-G-R-A-T-U-L-A-T-I-O-N-S to emilie marty, the new doctor in the house! all in all, a wonderful evening ... just in time for christmas.


Hot Toddy recipe: Seems to do the trick!

dec. 8, 2009: victoria's dealing with a severe chest cold, so we cooked up this hot toddy recipe using ezra b. (of ezra brooks) in http://www.drinkstreet.com/searchresults.cgi?drinkid=1063. it's wonderful. try it yourself with an extra dripping of honey :)